A MASSIVE increase in defence spending by the government is good news for Malvern's cyber industry, according to county MP Harriett Baldwin.

Mrs Baldwin was speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced £24.1 billion over the next four years to be spent on the defence sector.

The increase takes the total defence budget to £200 billion over the next four years, representing 2.2 per cent of GDP, above the NATO target of 2 per cent.

Mrs Baldwin said companies like QinetiQ, part of the so-called "cyber valley", will benefit from the increase, which will provide opportunities for growth.

She said: "The defence industry has been important to this area for many decades since Winston Churchill located his brilliant brains in the shadow of the Malvern Hills to defeat Nazi Germany.

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“We have seen generations of innovative thinkers base themselves in and around Malvern either working at what is now QinetiQ or one of the many spin-off companies that germinated there. There are space experts located right here in Malvern.

“Over the course of the last ten years, we have seen consistent support for the growing cyber security industry, and I hope that this significant increase in defence spending will see local employers of all sizes able to take advantage of these opportunities to create new jobs and grow.

“I am representing the UK at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly this week and this is welcome news that the UK is such a strong player in our collective defence.”

Announcing the spending increase on November 19, Mr Johnson told MPs the UK will once again become Europe’s leading naval power, the RAF will get new hi-tech jets and the military will be modernised.

The plans include the creation of an agency dedicated to artificial intelligence, and a “space command” capable of launching the UK’s first rocket by 2022.

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A National Cyber Force, combining intelligence agencies and service personnel, is already operating against terrorists, organised crime groups and hostile states, the Prime Minister confirmed.

Measures set out by the Prime Minister, who addressed MPs remotely as he continues his period of coronavirus self-isolation, include:

– Restoring the UK’s position as the “foremost naval power in Europe”, including the deployment of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and East Asia next year.

– Reshaping the Army for an age of “networked warfare” and strengthening the capabilities of special forces.

– A £1.5 billion investment in military research and development.

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– A new fighter system for the RAF, using artificial intelligence and drone technology to “defeat any adversary in air-to-air combat”.

Mr Johnson said the increase in defence spending is necessary to ensure the UK’s place on the global stage.

“Extending British influence requires a once-in-a-generation modernisation of our Armed Forces and now is the right time to press ahead,” he said.

Taking advantage of new technology, while acting speedily to “remove or reduce less relevant capabilities”, will transform the UK’s capabilities.

Mr Johnson said the announcements mark the end of an “era of retreat” and could help create 10,000 jobs a year.